I was so excited to read Juniper Lane when I first came across it, but I have to say it was a bit of a let down to me. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable read, just with a few issues I couldn’t let go of.
Overall, this book scores a 3/5 stars.
This book was a very highly anticipated read for me when I first came across it. I’ve read some of the author’s previous works as they actually wrote one of my favourite – if not the favourite – fanfictions I’ve ever read. So, naturally I put high expectations on this book. When they weren’t being met, I figured that was fine, it’s a much different world and all, but the book fell flat for me in so many other ways I couldn’t ignore.
I thought the plot for this book was captivating enough. I love a good story about healing and growth, but the execution wasn’t selling the story to me. It was a lot of fun to read about making fun of pretentious rich people, but the plot felt very jumbled and lacked detail. I liked the dual point of view as it gave way for more exposition and was great for characterization, but again the lack of detail in the plot itself made the story more difficult to grasp.
I think what would have helped the plot is for the book to simply have just been longer. The lack of detail made it hard to keep up with what was going on in the story, and even in some places there was a lack of context that completely threw off the scene. For example, the first time Mim meets Gale she already knows her name despite that never being introduced in the story. Expanding nearly all of the scenes and adding more scenes for context and to bulk up the plot would have given this book exactly what it needed to be a 4 to 5 star read. I was just left wanting more, and in a way where I wasn’t given enough in the first place.
Pacing & Style
The writing style was consistent, and as I’m already familiar with some of the author’s other works I thought the writing itself was actually really good and engaging. On the other hand, the pacing was very awkward. The passage of time was very inconsistently shown, which in many cases can be fine but here it gave the story a weird kind of whiplash. Similarly to the plot, I feel like if more story was presented this wouldn’t have been as stark of a problem.
Here’s the thing: complex women and grey characters are my jam. But this book didn’t lend too well to those characters a lot of the time. This is probably due to the lack in detail, which just didn’t breathe life into a lot of the characters like they deserved. That said, I did really like the development of Nadia. Mim’s character development was fine but I didn’t find it to be anything too special. Nadia was simply a more interesting character, and learning about the ways her various identities intersect was really brilliantly portrayed. Again, I just wish for more! I want to know more about her!!
Mim and Nadia’s romance is ultimately a slowburn, which I do appreciate, but I wanted to see more. My main issue with this aspect is that the book did too much showing and not enough telling when it came down to the romantic feelings Mim and Nadia have. It added a layer of confusion, and it made me need to step back and reread sections to fully understand what was happening. Clearly the issue I have with detail is affecting the entire book, which is a shame because it is such a compelling story with great characters.
Despite all my complaints, this book was an enjoyable and fun read. I just wanted more and wished the pacing was more stable. The writing definitely solidified this read as fun for me, but sadly the problems I have with this book are too large for me to brush off.
All that said, I’m definitely looking forward to see what Morrison will being to the writing world in the future, and while I’m sad about how disappointing this book was for me I’m so happy to have read it!